Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Automat for the People

Vending Machines for the Destitute
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Put vending machines in public places where the homeless are known to congregate. Fill them with stuff that they need: clean underwear, meal vouchers, a night's YMCA lodging, etc. These vending machines only accept tokens, which are sold everywhere, but can't be redeemed for money.

People who want to do good but don't want to give the destitute drug money, can carry tokens on them to give out. The recipient can spend these tokens on the items they need most, within the limits imposed by the vending machines.

Certainly some people will try to take advantage of the system, and try to sell their meal vouchers for crack, but this removes the burden of guilt from the giver.

dbsousa, Mar 08 2003

Vending Machines for Charity http://www.halfbake...nes_20for_20Charity
The complement to this idea [dbsousa, Oct 06 2004]

The Anti-Lottery http://www.halfbake.../The_20Anti-Lottery
Another "Change for Change" idea.. [dbsousa, Oct 06 2004]

(??) The Working Homeless http://www.eagletri...20010605/FP_004.htm
a growing trend... [dbsousa, Oct 06 2004]

[link]






       The voucher/token aspect of this is well baked. Many cities have similar systems, and merchants accept the vouchers in exchange for food and other restricted items (no tobacco or alcohol, for example).
waugsqueke, Mar 08 2003
  

       Sounds like a great idea! But to prevent trading of tokens for cigarettes among the destitute, I propose that there should first be metatokens, which can only be used in special machines which then dispense the real tokens.   

       These machines would be twelve feet tall and made of polished basalt in the form of a fist, to encourage good morals among the destitute.
bungston, Mar 09 2003
  

       I'm personally opposed to any needlessly compex system which prohibits the homeless from buying alcohol whilst allowing the well-off to purchase the same. Surely if you're living on the streets, you have more need for a drink rather than less.   

       Also this would serve to further stigmatise the homeless and destitute by ensuring that they had to purchase stuff out of machines rather than in shops with the rest of us. Give homeless people money; if they really want they could convert anything else into money but at a worse exchange rate.   

       (Applause to [bungston] by the way.)
pottedstu, Mar 09 2003
  

       Good title, though.
snarfyguy, Mar 09 2003
  

       Dimandja, There is a difference between the poor and the destitute. Food Stamps do not reach the homeless. Until we live in a world where no one goes hungry or homeless, we need to take it upon ourselves to reach those people where we can.   

       At the same time, pottedstu, I believe help needs to be help. I used to bring a sandwich with me whenever I went into New York, and gave it to the first person who asked me for money for food. The problem was, I didn't know if the guy I was helping really needed a sandwich, or medicine, or a phone card, or a drink.   

       The Automat is certainly a compromise, but it allows the donor some control over his donation, and the recipient some control over his gift.
dbsousa, Mar 09 2003
  

       It's a good idea. Only I think that we have to remember that homeless people don't have the same needs as us. I don't think clean underwear would be a priority for me if I were cold, hungry or hungover.
Pericles, Mar 09 2003
  

       What [dbsousa] is neglecting to mention is that he/she used travel to New York from Kansas. With the sandwich in a pants pocket.
sambwiches, Mar 09 2003
  

       Actually, a friend of mine who did some research on the homeless for a play she was directing, told me that clean underwear was the most requested item at shelters. That's why I put them in the Automat.
dbsousa, Mar 10 2003
  

       //I said, this type of coupon/token system has been tried and has been abused// You seem to think the purpose of this scheme is to prevent drug abuse, Dimandja.   

       I don't particularly care if the destitute use these tokens to "abuse the system". My primary concern is that it creates an opportunity for people beyond the reach of welfare and food stamps (i.e., the homeless) to recieve aid directly, and for people to give aid with a cleaner conscience. Every system is abused. I have no doubt that someone tried to use the sandwiches I gave them to buy drugs.   

       You call this a noble idea, but it is not. It is a sad, desperate attempt to allow people to part with their change without feeling they are handing the crack directly to the addict. It appeals not to grander ideals, but to the smug feeling some people seem to revel in, a sense of moral superiority that makes me shake with anger when I see a bumper sticker that reads "I do work for food, get a job."   

       But it might loosen a few coins from those pockets to help those people that don't want to abuse the system...
dbsousa, Mar 10 2003
  

       Laundromat for the people might make more of a social impact...
lostdog, Mar 10 2003
  

       This is a very good idea :)   

       Congrats.
NeoPiter, Jul 05 2004
  
      
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